NOTE: This is the first of a few posts dedicated to my birthday, which was last Wednesday. With my hectic Ricky's schedule during one of its most busy seasons-- HALLOWEEN-- I was unable to update like I wanted to in regards to my birthday!
So for my birthday dinner (not actually on my birthday, because I was scheduled for a nine hour shift due to some typical confusion), my parents, Joe and I went out to eat at a restaurant called Amanda's. This place is a nice restaurant that I feel like I grew up on because when my sister and I were younger it was the fancy restaurant of choice. The schools that I went to had fundraisers there and so it has been kind of a part of my life. I was really excited for Joe to try it out too because my dad talks about it with us.
We went for a late dinner Tuesday night, and we were all ravenous.
For starters my parents both ate a roasted beet and avocado salad. It was deffo pretty to look at and the first adjective my mother could think of was "Yum," (though this is not an adjective it is a descriptor). I later found out that the dressing was a citrus vinagrette to compliement the sweetness of the beet as well as the creamy texture of the avocado. The "frizzy" leaves that topped the salad added another taste as well as crunch.
My boyfriend and I (like-minded as we are) ordered a spinach salad that was topped with blue cheese, pink grapefruit, walnuts, and lardons (aka bacon), with a "walnut vinagrette." I LOVE spinach, and spinach topped with contrasting goodies, but this salad, to me at least, was overpowered by said "walnut vinagrette." Joe disagrees, but I like to taste all the toppings. I probably would have preferred apple pieces or dried cranberries or cooked pear in the place of the grapefruit, because the citrus added to the tang of the the dressing, making it more powerful. There were a lot of strong flavors on the salad that I do not think meshed harmoniously.
My parents and I all ordered the same entree, Short Ribs served on top of creamy gorgonzola polenta, surrounded by mushrooms in a wine sauce (though my father substituted polenta with mash potatoes). This dish also had a large range of flavors, and once again in my opinion, I feel they failed to blend nicely on the tongue. The strong gorgonzola with the equally distinctive wine sauce, really disguised the taste of the meat. Gorgonzola may have too strong a flavor for the other elements of the dish. A small amount of the cheese ruined the rest of the bite. Amanda's polenta has been delicious as long as I can remember, and this evening it would have been delicious if it was warmer by the time we got our plates.  I was not fond of the wine sauce as well, but Mommie liked it and she said that that perhaps the wine sauce unified the dish. The meat, however, was tasty. The texture and the way it tore apart was very nice. Maybe my father made the right decision when asking for a substitute...
Joe ordered (because I forced him to), pan roasted cod in a clam ragout with chorizo, fingerling potatoes and red peppers. Though the ingredients sound memorable, the dish to me was not. I remember how it looked, but not necessarily how it tasted. The cod was cooked well, flaky as I feel it should be, but I wished that the chorizo was ground rather than sliced like pepperoni. I love chorizo, but it did not really make a mark on the dish. Joe said that the sauce accompanying the fish was thin and may have been better had it been a little heavier. I did enjoy the mix of textures from the various ingredients. Very innovative, but could be adjusted for a greater impact.
Dessert. Even though Joe and I made cupcakes, I demanded desert (oinkoink). Joe ordered the cheesecake which was by far the hit. It was real honest-to-goodness cheesecake. As Mommie  put it, "it was light and fluffy and delicious..." The graham cracker crust put us all over the edge.
Daddio ordered a ginger creme brulee, that to me, was underwhelming and monotone. It was cute, but there could have been much more flavor because of the unconventional use of ginger.
I had the apple and blueberry crumble. I generally like crumbles, but this was not sweet enough and felt more like a morning staple, granola. It was very nutty, and to me walnuts become a little too meaty for desert, especially at this quantity. The bites that were most delightful had a bit of blueberry in it. The blueberries served as a spike in flavor whereas the rest of the oats were what one expects of oats.

Despite it all, the atmosphere was perfect for a social dinner. We could hear everything that we said to each other, which is wildly different than in most restaurants. Amanda's is gorgeous. The decor and the various details all add to an enjoyable ambiance. I had a great birthday dinner though, with some of my favorite people (most of the time...)


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